Friday, May 09, 2008

Pathetically Bad

I've found out, anyway, why critics of this blog who post here generally don't give their real names. When they do, it exposes their own work to scrutiny, which destroys anything they have to say.

When I present my case, the attitude which infects even myself, not to mention the other side, is that opponents are so feeble and defenseless that if I argue against their ideas and their art I'm picking on them.

Case in point: poet Christopher Salerno, Bennington MFA grad.

By naming him I'm singling him out, so I'll add that I use him only as a typical case. Others of his kind are worse. I hope I don't bruise him. He has a cozy teaching position, and is young enough anyway to find another career. I urge him to do so. Removing himself from the bubble of academe could only improve his work.

Much of his poetry is on-line. While examining it I thought, "He received an expensive MFA degree, studying for many years with the supposed best, to create this?"

He's learned little of the various forms and tricks of harmonious sound which bring joy to the art. Unlearned and unexpressed is the idea of poetry as language; musical magical language that when recited takes the poet and the audience to another plane.

With today's poets-- I use Christopher Salerno only as example-- after fifteen minutes of reading their work one is able to match it, if anyone'd want to. One could sit down and in an hour create ten times the amount, as pretentious and meaningless. The years of study at Bennington; the teaching of renowned instructors-- WHERE IS IT? What's being taught?
Democracy XX

One part and the farthest
I awake next to the
On one hand and the other
you prefer that I not sit
grappling with muddy boots.

Democracy XXVI

When you wake, when you
sit, when you cry,
Not sleeping,
The painting is in the attic.

Democracy XXXII

Here, here is the
mud that you came for,
the tracks across
the kitchen floor
Here are the
tracks of your conscience
given form
weighed against the
scales of my labor
Your dark-eyed hangover
the literal interior mess
coming home from the bar.


Here is the poetry
worse than worst,
execrable poetry
I call it bad,
a nightmare of evasion
the twisted experience of too many
writing programs
dollars paid, receipt stamped
detestable fraud
the dead garbage can remains
with the unplucked festering
coffee grounds mixed with decaying fish
foul smell, putrid mess
back alley behind the barn
fills with it
the smell of broken
lavoratories human stench classrooms
vomitories repositories of pretention
at Bennington
barge heaps towed down the Hudson
unwanted refuse
from all the bad poets
from all the preppy New England
green campus students
I call it charade, circus, scam,
You call it poetry.

(Disclaimer: these poems are inspired by, but are not actually written by, Mr. Salerno.)


Harland said...

Ackshally, King. You haven't discovered anything about why commenters don't use their real names. It may be, for example, that I don't want you to know whether I'm a poet or a mailroom worker. Why give you the out of discrediting anything I have to say by letting you hang it on the peg of my imagined puppetry? I'd rather you just display to a tiny extent more your ingrained intolerance for even the mildest disagreement with your so-called "positions." You don't have to be a "demi-puppet" to recognize that yours is the pathetically caricatured view of an eternal outsider. Only in the depths of your envious imagining could such a phantasm as this round-the-clock cocktail party to which academic poets, shlock novel writers, cushily ensconced creative writing instructors, book reviewers, magazine editors, and other unworthies are invited but from which The King is eternally excluded. The ignorance it betrays (your assumption that these worlds even overlap, let alone engage in active collusion against the True Literature writhing against its oppression, is hilarious) would be sad if it weren't so damned funny. Not even the most incompetent "demi-puppet" would worry for a moment about your "exposure" of his fraudulence because every statement you make is either self-impugning (writer X sucks because he belongs to a class I have made it my "critical" raison d'etre to condemn), extraliterary (writer X might be worth talking about if he were completely obscure and unknown, just like me), or tautological (writer X is bad because his work doesn't relate true life as it's really lived in a true way, which as we all know is [a] true, [b] real, and related with a feeling for true reality). You're the King all right -- you're Rupert Pupkin, though Pupkin at least had a real act.

John said...

I'm sure he won't feel bad after he's read some of your poetry, King.

"Pathetically Bad"--You would know, wouldn't you?

christopher salerno said...

This is humorous and whatnot, but seriously, K.I.N.G., please let it be known that the poem you've posted following your rant was NOT written by me (christopher salerno). Whew!

Otherwise, have a fine life, good luck in the trenches, and, well, try not to be so angry at what only wants to love you back.

All best,

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Thanks, Christopher.
I just feel bad that you wasted so much money in that writing program!

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Re Harland.
Nice to know that there's no corruption at all in the literary world. That grants money and publicity backing doesn't go to the well connected.
It's all in my head.
Nice to be aware that the publishing world is not flooding this society with upper class trash-- I must've imagined seeing all those displays for the "Clique," or cover article for "Gossip Girl."
I guess I never as well received the Marie Therese book by Susan Nagel which is easily shown to be a complete distortion of history.
None of this is actually happening!
This means at well that writing programs are not charging enormous sums of money and cranking out as a result what seems to be minimal effort.
Nice to know Christopher feels okay about his work.
Somehow I'd expect more-- that the product of one of these programs would produce actual poets, adept in all styles and eager to show this.
No, instead we get a few lines of broken-up prose.
Maybe I'm missing something. I stare at Chris's poems and wonder what's good about them. I seek for meaning. I sound them out, wish them to sound euphonious (they don't); wait at least for some incantory magic. It doesn't happen.
They sit on the page; unmoving. Lifeless.
(I can readily post the actual works, but there are many disclaimers about "Copyright" under them-- as if anyone would actually seek to copy them! Someone lives in a fantasy world. I'm not sure it's myself.)
Are any of the many problems afflicting literature related?
I'm told they're not.
But of course, they are, because the foundation of thought-- or non-thought, really, which underpins them is the same.
Not least about this bankrupt philosophy is its unshakeable complacency, as here exhibited.
In few other endeavors of life will you find this.
A sports team strives to always improve. It must, or it falls behind.
Same for any corporation. The town I'm currently in, Detroit, is the perfect example of this.
Cities themselves must compete.
The individual is forced to-- never more true than in the industrial heartland, where so many people have been thrown out of their comfortable lives, forced to start over. (I'm a product, of course, of this environment.)
yet here among it all we have literature.
Ever pristine literature!
Untouched and untouchable, beyond all improvement, disdaining any criticism of any of its varied aspects, from said cocktail parties down to the lowliest writing program.
The poets and writers it serves us are all wonderful, even when they're not.
Yes, pathetic. Absolutely.

King said...

Re poetry:
Of course I'm not a poet (though I love to read and recite good poetry).
I'm a polemicist.
That said, I do write poetry-- a rough facsimile-- as one more way to make my points.
In that regard I have one of my own efforts up at my new personal writing blog,
(It makes my points.
Keep in mind, I'm not receiving grants for it! Not scamming anybody.)

King said...

Finally, re the anonymous:
to me it shows a lack of character and integrity, and inability to satnd behind your words and ideas.
Just one more jellyfish, Harland.
A demi-puppet?
A mere shadow as Shakespeare describes?
(At least Mr. Salerno posted under his own identity, which is all to his credit; gives him substance; shows he believes in himself and his art. I can respect that.)